Australian golfing great Peter Thomson, who won the British Open five times, died Wednesday aged 88 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, his family said. "He had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and lost his brave battle at home in Melbourne surrounded by family," a statement said. Thomson was the first Australian to win the British Open, claiming five titles between 1954 and 1965, including three consecutive wins. Only Tom Watson in the modern era has matched the feat. In total, he won 26 times in Europe, 19 times in Australia and New Zealand and another 11 in Asia and Japan.
He played only a few seasons in the United States, winning the Texas Open in 1956. But he did tee-off regularly on the American senior circuit, winning nine times in 1985, setting a record that may never be broken.
As well as being a great player, he was an outstanding contributor to the game.
Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world.
He also helped establish the Asian Tour and wrote for newspapers and magazines for 60 years. He was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.
The World Golf Hall of Fame called him "the thinking man's golfer".
"His clean, brisk game was based on cold logic and a gift for reducing things to their simplest essentials," it said.
"His style was free of the extraneous, so that the path he would take to victory seemed a remarkably straight line."
He is survived by his wife Mary, a son and three daughters, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.